The Pacific Northwest states of Washington and Oregon are a nature lovers’ playground. There is something for everyone here: incredible beaches, big city life, snow-packed mountains…
I could go on! When deciding on where to go in this part of the country, you really do have to pick and choose wisely! Most people do not have the luxury of time and if they do, they will need to literally carve out months to take it all in!
Here is a list of the Top 10 must-dos when visiting the Pacific Northwest.
1. Crater Lake
The deepest lake in the United States and the ninth deepest in the world. You can thank an imploding volcano for the lake’s pristine blue waters, an incredible drop from the rim, and a circular drive that is among the most scenic anywhere!
2. The Food Carts in Portland, Oregon
Portland is one of the country’s ultimate foodie destinations. And there are more food carts per capita in Portland than in any other city on the globe. Several of them are run by honest-to-gosh chefs! The food carts are dispersed through various locals around town, in clusters called ‘food cart pods.’ Any type of food you desire can be found at one of the many dozens of carts around town.
3. Powell’s Books
This legendary bookstore is reported to be the largest independent bookstore in the world. With a huge headquarters and several smaller specialty bookstores throughout the city, this may not be fake news. The main store downtown covers an entire city block and has three floors full of literary goodness. Guest authors regularly make an appearance here for signings and talks.
4. The Northern Oregon Coastline
Take a scenic and historic drive from Newport up through Astoria (or vice versa) and take in the incredible sea cliff views. The charming coastal towns of Cannon Beach and Seaside cannot be missed. You will see lighthouses, surfers, and experience the occasional whale spotting!
5. The Columbia River Gorge
Just east of the Portland suburb of Troutdale on Interstate 84 is the magnificent Columbia Gorge. An anglers’ haven, a hikers’ dream, and a drivers’ delight. Mountains of old-growth forest on one side and the mighty Columbia River on the other make this one of the more scenic drives in the continental U.S.
6. Olympic National Park
A rainforest so pristine, there are very few roads that traverse its inner reaches. The Hoh rainforest trail is the most popular, and in the summertime, it can get quite overrun with tourists. However, there are other trails that are lesser known for those that require solace. The beaches of this Washington peninsula and the tiny logging town of Forks were made famous by the movie series, ‘Twilight.
7. Mount Rainier
A premier destination for avid skiers and backpackers, the entire area is rife with outdoor activities such as fishing, camping, hiking and just basking in the glow of a glorious mountain. Rainier is part of the mighty Cascade Mountain range, which stretches from Northern California well into British Columbia, Canada.
8. Leavenworth, Washington
Smack dab in the middle of the state is a small village whose buildings are completely Bavarian-inspired. One can walk down the street and pretend you are in a Swiss chalet ski town, with its Alpine architecture, German-based sausage cafes and beer gardens. All of this against the backdrop of the Cascades make this a day trip worth taking.
9. Pike Place Market
This seems to be a stop on everyone’s list when visiting the Pacific Northwest, and with good reason. The market has been running continuously for over 100 years. Many of the local vendors have been selling their wares for generations. Savor the sights, smells and the history; sample the fine meats, cheeses and baked goods. Take home fresh seafood caught in Puget Sound just outside the market.
10. The San Juan Islands
Take a ferry from Seattle and explore island life in Washington State. The most popular destination is Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, but give the other islands a try. Lopez Island is sparsely populated and serene. Orcas Island is a hippie-lovers haven, and Shaw Island has a Catholic monastery!